Lady Vikings headed to tournament

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  • Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Big Bend’s Callie Gronning, left, and Miranda Johnson celebrate after the women qualified for the NWAC tournament for the first time in 16 years with a 114-110 win over Yakima Valley.

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    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Yakima Valley’s Kali Kruger (44) blocks the shot of Big Bend’s Callie Gronning during the first quarter of Wednesday’s NWAC East game in Yakima.

  • Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Big Bend’s Callie Gronning, left, and Miranda Johnson celebrate after the women qualified for the NWAC tournament for the first time in 16 years with a 114-110 win over Yakima Valley.

  • 1

    Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Yakima Valley’s Kali Kruger (44) blocks the shot of Big Bend’s Callie Gronning during the first quarter of Wednesday’s NWAC East game in Yakima.

YAKIMA — If you felt like the earth stood still there for a moment, like some sort of karma ripple in the space-time continuum around 7:45 p.m. Wednesday night, it was probably the shock waves coming out of Ellwood Crosier Court in Yakima.

The Big Bend Lady Vikings secured their place in the NWAC tournament with a record night in Yakima, holding on to beat the Yaks 114-110 in the East Region season finale. Yeah, that’s right both women’s community college teams scored 110 points and it took every single point for the Lady Vikes to secure their first trip to the NWAC tournament in 16 years.

Sophomore Sunnie Martinez buried 11 3-point field goals on her way to a game-high 33 points. Miranda Johnson was 9-of-24 from the floor, including 4-of-11 from downtown, for 28 points.

“I was feeling it and my teammates did a good job rotating the ball and getting it to me in space,” said Martinez, who also had five assists. “I credit the team for getting me over the top. I’ve never seen a game like this where both teams score 110 points. It was such a big deal to be a part of something like this.

“It’s been our goal all season to get to the NWAC and I have to give a lot of credit to our coach (Preston Wilks). He’s been helping us out and keeping us on track.”

The Lady Vikings needed to the win to control their own destiny. A loss and a loss by Treasure Valley to Walla Walla would provided the same result, but it wouldn’t have been a game for the ages where there was a combined 224 points scored.

“I’m wanting to put this on the guys’ (web) page just let them know that the women can play too,” said Martinez, with a little devious smile.

Even with a 114, 33 in both the second and fourth quarters, the Lady Vikings were never out of danger. Yaks sophomore Sequoia Wheeler made 12-of-24 from the floor and finished with a team-high 31 points. Kamri Von Oelhoffen added 29 and the Yaks stayed right with Big Bend. Johnson made it a 101-92 game with a couple of free throws with just under five minutes remaining. The 5-foot-8 freshman from Salt Lake City hit a nice little runner off the glass to give Big Bend a 103-95 lead.

But the Yaks were as stubborn as their namesake. Sophomore Carly Davis made a pair of free throws to put Yakima Valley at the century mark, trailing 106-100 with 2:58 remaining.

“We knew they were a team of runs, they’ve come back from 20 points down a couple of times this season,” Wilks said. “It was their sophomore night and we knew they weren’t going to hand it to us. Our whole thought process was, ‘If you want this, you’re going to have to go take it.’”

The Lady Vikes opened up a 108-100 lead and still the Yaks wouldn’t go away. Leah Dougherty hit two free throws to extend the lead to seven points.

But the Yaks came back strong with a 7-0 run to tie the game 110-110 with 45 seconds left. Big Bend pushed and shoved its way through the final 25 seconds. Callie Gronning converted a traditional three-point play for a three-point advantage. The 5-7 sophomore from Soda Springs knocked down one of two and the Lady Vikings held off Yakima Valley.

The NWAC scoring record was not available at press time, but 224 combined points has to be up there somewhere.

Big Bend coach Preston Wilks, the winningest coach in Lady Vikings history, will coach in the NWAC tournament for the first time in his career. And the Big Bend women will return for the first time in 16 years.

Big Bend 24 33 24 33 - 114

Yakima Valley 27 25 28 30 - 110

Big Bend - Sunnie Martinez 33, Hailey Garrity 11, Leah Dougherty 19, Miranda Johnson 28, Callie Gronning 16, Emily Allan 2, Maggie Strom 5. Totals: 37-87 23-25 114

Yakima Valley - Carly Davis 6, Kamri Von Oelhoffen 29, AlamaRae Swan 8, Sequoia 31, Trisata Takes Enemy 23, Shinaiah Holt 3, Sydney Layaien 2, Bailey Andrews 4, Makayla Lambert 2, Kali Kruger 2. Totals: 44-81 12-17 110

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